Lynching Trends After Trump Uses Word For First Time in His Presidency to Describe Democrat Attacks

"Lynching" trended on Twitter Tuesday after President Donald Trump posted an explosive tweet comparing the impeachment inquiry being conducted against him to a lynching.

"So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!"

The president has railed against Democrats leading impeachment investigations, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of committing treason. But with Tuesday's comments, which CNN reporter Daniel Dale said marked the first time Trump has used the word "lynching" as president, Trump waded into new territory.

Rep. Bobby L. Rush, an Illinois Democrat, was among those who quickly expressed indignation at Trump's comparison between the impeachment inquiry and the country's history of lynchings.

"You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING? What the hell is wrong with you?" Rush wrote. "Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet."

Trump's comments come after the Senate passed an anti-lynching bill introduced by Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Time Scott.

"Lynching is not a relic of a painful past -- it is a present and pernicious evil that we still have yet to confront," Booker said in February statement.

According to the NAACP, 4,743 people were lynched between 1882 and1968, and 72.7 percent of those lynched were black. As The Equal Justice Initiative points out, "lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the contemporary geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans."

Historians bristled at the comparison between America's history of extrajudicial mobs killing African Americans without punishment.

Charles Blow, a New York Times opinion columnist was also among those who expressed outrage at the president's comments.

"Lynching?! Sir, don't you DARE invoke the darkness of America's viciousness toward black people to defend your corruption. How dare you?!..." Blow wrote.

Historians and analysts also noted Trump's own history of racist comments and incendiary rhetoric. Twitter users remarked on the president's continued refusal to admit that the Central Park 5, a group of black and Latino teenagers falsely accused of raping a woman in Central Park, are innocent. They noted his remarks after the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in 2017, when Trump said that there were "very fine people on both sides." And they commented on his attacks on black elected officials.

"Comparing impeachment proceedings to a lynching is even more insulting when you've cozied up to the very forces of white supremacy that historically have used lynching as a tool to terrorize racial minorities," historian Kevin Kruse wrote.

Others, such as Adam Serwer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, noted that Trump has been cited as inspiration for acts of violence, including the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.

Some questioned whether Trump's remarks were intended to distract from the impeachment proceedings. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, is scheduled to speak before House lawmakers on Tuesday. In text messages to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Taylor called Trump's decision to withhold military assistance from Ukraine "crazy." He also appeared to describe the decision as a quid pro quo.

"As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," he wrote in a September text. Sondland denied that any quid pro quo was occurring.

President Donald Trump speaks as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House October 21, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Trump referred to the impeachment inquiry as a lynching Tuesday, drawing fierce backlash. Alex Wong/Getty Images